Friday, November 14, 2008

A pox on lips

Someone told me once that I could write two books a month and I told him he was out of his mind. A book in two weeks is doable, but writing a book every two weeks is a lot of pressure, which doesn't mean I haven't done it. I have. The book I just sold I wrote in two weeks and the book I wrote in August I wrote in about two weeks. I've also moved past 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo and I'm not finished with the book, but it has been almost two weeks since I started and that's with working full time, reading, reviewing and doing a little editing. You'd be wrong to think I have no life. I have a life and it's full of work and writing and the occasional movie while I'm checking email and writing replies. It's call multi-tasking and I am a practitioner.

So here I sit with a bowl of oatmeal warming my insides while I try to keep the outside warm under the faux mink blanket my mother gave me last year writing a little something for LJ while I try to figure out how I'm going to get out of typing reports today and hoping that when I sit down at the other computer I will get no work to type. Plays havoc with my pay and I end up working weekends and nights to catch up, but sometimes a girl needs a day off -- in succession with several other days off.

I do find, however, that when I sit down and get past the first word or two in a story or book the rest takes care of itself by taking me out of myself and into the world of the book. Even if I only write a chapter or two a day, it's enough to carry me through the whole story. I don't, as Meg Cabot said in her NaNo email this week, cheat with other stories. I do have the odd idea on occasion and jot down quick notes on something that sparks an interest from what I see, hear and read, but when I'm working on a book I am totally committed. It's a little like being married or in a relationship with someone and happening to notice a guy or gal (depending on your preference) that passes by. S/he is cute or interesting or interestingly cute but they can't compare with the person sitting next to or across from you. Looking isn't cheating and neither is jotting down a note to remind me later that another story could be warming up in the wings when I'm through with the current story. Everyone needs a momentary distraction; I certainly do or I get stale, but a book every two weeks is something else again. I need a little downtime between books.

This weekend (tomorrow) I will have some much needed downtime with a certain handsome and roguish fella who is coming by in the afternoon. Maybe this weekend he won't show up a half hour early and catch me in my comfy cleaning clothes with the ripped t-shirt that bares strategic parts of my breasts and bra. Arrive early or unannounced and there's no telling what I might be wearing -- or almost wearing. I'm not complaining and he didn't either. He said he likes my shirt as much as I do, but I think it's time to go to the hobby store and buy some embroidery thread to patch up this shirt. A satin stitched outline of the flower would help reinforce the fabric and save what's left of the flower painted on the front while making it prettier. The holes would be closed, but I might consider leaving a few of them open, just enough to be provocative without being Madonna. Tasteful and sexy, not bold and wanton. Wouldn't want to make it too easy or too obvious. A glimpse of stocking, so to speak, not a full frontal assault.

I was worried earlier this week that a cold sore would seriously dampen the festivities tomorrow, but my cache of essential oils saved me yet again. Before the cold sore turned my lip into Martha's Vineyard during a winter storm I opened the little blisters and applied tea tree oil. The next day the swelling was a little bigger, but subsided during the day until there was a little more blister and a minor bump on the right side of my upper lip where I usually get my every five-year outbreak. This morning the swelling is all gone and the cold sore dried up. I'll keep applying tea tree oil until tomorrow so that it will be completely gone. It's the fastest outbreak and cure I've ever had.

While talking with a friend about the pox on my lip, she said neither she nor her husband ever got cold sores. They haven't had chicken pox either. Hmmm, I thought. Must be a connection there somewhere. So, now it's time for the questions.

Have you ever had chicken pox? Do you get cold sores?

FYI: There is a difference between cold sores and chancre sores. Cold sores occur on the skin and chancre (canker) sores occur inside the mouth in the soft tissues.

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Sometimes panic is good, helping to motivate and mobilize fear into action. That's what happened the other day.

I usually have a momentary meltdown and then begin focusing on solving whatever problem is in the way. I had help from a good friend who stood by and patted me on the back while I panicked. Then he offered me something to make it all better -- someone we both know, although he knows the gentleman much better than I do since they've been friends for about ten years. The gentleman is also a fellow ham and a retired graphic artist with tons of experience. Book trailers are new to him, but anyone who can put together corporative videos and art work has a big edge, and one he's willing to share with me to help me out and gain a little more knowledge and a few clips for his portfolio. None of it would have been possible without my favorite Luddite who continues to amaze me. The stage is set for the book trailer.

The most amazing part about the Luddite is that he's gone out of his way to be there for me when he started a brand new job Monday last and is still getting up to speed with a metric ton of documentation and paperwork to get through. I miss chatting during the day, but at least I get to see him in person more often that originally planned. During the time we have been apart he has re-evaluated his ideas and plans and fit me back into his schedule and his life. I would have gotten through all this without him -- I always land on my feet -- but my recovery time is less and it's wonderful to have the support and his friendship. Can't ask for more.

I was told this was my year and it has been. I won't say I can't ask for more because there's always more: more books, more stories, more money for writing and more friends to share the trials, trailers and tribulations, but also the joy and excitement and experiences. I can't help wondering if sometimes the Universe waits until we can appreciate them most to shower us with the good things in life. Whatever the rhyme or reason, I feel blessed. I am blessed by friends and family who support me, argue with me, fight with me and love me in spite of it all, but mostly with friends who aren't afraid to share their lives with me. Beanie's right, I'm getting sappy in my old age.

Isn't it marvelous?

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Very thin shoe horn

The world just got more real and insistent. From author with contract for novel to author expected to writing comprehensive marketing plan and sketching out ideas for book trailer in less than a week. Yikes! It's real. I'm officially on the publishing treadmill, and I thought the signings and readings and personal interviews and appearances were tough for the anthologies. Now I have to build a web site, provide content and work on marketing before the book has been copy edited or typeset, and I signed on for this gig. I'm not sure the ink is dry on the contract yet.

This is now the world of the mid list writer: marketing, PR, strategizing and selling. I need someone to be me for that part of things so I can stay home and keep writing, otherwise I'll be lucky if I can find a shoe horn thin enough to fit a little life into my life. John said that outsourcing my public persona is identity theft and there are some aspects of my identity he'd like to keep to himself. I told him to give me a list and I wouldn't outsource them. I sure hope this gets easier as I break readership statistics down from characters and venues in the book and begin making plans to make the rounds at writers conferences. I keep reminding myself this is what I signed on for, except that it's really not. I signed on to write books and sign the occasional autograph while someone else sells the books and does the PR.

Okay, time to buck up and stop whining since I'm out of cheese. The publishing world has changed and it's up to me to sell the books I write just like Mark Twain, except that Twain actually hired salesmen to take his books out across the country and sell them door to door. Great! I've just become the Fuller Brush Company.

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Two in one day

Will wonders ever cease?

I just got off the phone -- again. This time I was talking to my aunt who is also my biological mother. She had just heard about one of the stories I'd written for a Cup of Comfort anthology. After calling Mom and getting a list of all the other anthologies, she got copies of them and read them from the beginning. The first one she read was Love is Enough from Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul

As I reread the story after John read it yesterday, it hit me that I had included her in that story and I was a little nervous about her reading it. The story still makes me cry and I wrote it. She mentioned it when we talked on this phone this evening and she said it made her cry and that she was very proud of me. She had called her sister, my Aunt Wilma, who also got a postcard from me about the latest book, A Cup of Comfort for Families Touched by Alzheimer's. Aunt Wilma wanted to know if there were other books and she wrote down the list and went out to buy all the books and read them. I have no idea what Aunt Wilma thinks about my writing, but Ann told me I have a way with words and she thought my stories were the best ones in the books. Isn't family prejudice wonderful? Makes me wish for thousands more just like them.

I have spent most of the day on the phone with friends and family and answering emails from friends and family who all got the word that Past Imperfect has been bought. They're all anxious to read the book, which won't be out until next year. I'm still going through the contract, which is basic boiler plate, and noting things that still need to be negotiated. I have two more books almost ready to put out there and I have no doubt at all they will also be picked up. One book was written in August and the other started a few years ago and put aside while I wrote book reviews, articles, stories and columns. I think it's time to finish it and put it out there.

About the only thing missing right now is being able to share this with Dad. In many ways, he's the person who got me fired up and putting more of my writing out into the world. I know he'd be proud of me because he was proud of everything I've accomplished so far. To him, I was already a best selling author.

It's a little daunting to know that soon there will be a book with only my name under the title and more than a little overwhelming that so many of my family and friends, most of who have supported and encouraged me all these years, aren't shy about sharing their congratulations and pride even though things are not as good for them right now as they are for me. It was hard for me sometimes, as proud and happy as I am for my friends and family's success, not to wonder why, after all the hard work and time I've put in, I didn't have more of what they had. I didn't and don't begrudge them their happiness, but I wanted a small piece of it for myself. This year, I have been amply rewarded for my sometimes reluctant patience and tenacity, and I know even though everyone is happy for me a small part of them wonders when it will be their turn again.

I don't have a lot of money and each month I still struggle to pay the bills and keep some food on the table (and books on the shelves), but over the past few months I feel richer than Midas and blessed, not only because my stories and books are being published, but because I have the most wonderful and faithful and amazing group of friends and family. The words are mine (and sometimes my editors') but my success and happiness I willingly share with all of you, as long as you understand I don't plan to share the checks (that goes for my sister Carol who keeps asking me when she's getting her share). I still have land to buy and a cabin higher up in the mountains to build and furnish.

Thank you all for your friendship. I couldn't have made it this far without giving up without you.

It may be too late

Since reconnecting with my best male friend, I've thought about living with him full time. I imagine him here cooking together in the kitchen, doing dishes, sharing the bathroom and sharing everything else and it feels strange. It isn't that I don't care for him or that I don't want to be with him, but I wonder if I have lost the knack of living with someone else full time. I've been single and have lived alone longer than I was married either time or living with someone else. With the kids, it was a matter of time before they were out on their own, but living with a partner, a mate, is not something with an expiration date, or at least one hopes that's the case.

I've become used to quiet mornings and not rushing around fixing breakfast or showering or getting ready to go to work. I get up, go to the bathroom, climb back into bed to get warm and then get up and get ready for work. Since I work at home, there's not much to do, outside of getting breakfast, checking email and putting on warm clothes before sitting down to work. On warm days, I wear little or nothing. Sometimes I take a shower first thing in the morning and most of the time I take one whenever I feel like it. I have no fixed engagements, shop for groceries on Tuesdays or Thursdays, clean house on Saturdays, do laundry on Sundays and the rest of the time let my work and writing obligations and habits determine the shape of my days. If I don't have enough dirty clothes (I don't wear that many clothes working at home) for a load or two on Sundays, I postpone the laundry until I do have enough. I don't cook or eat on a schedule and the only fixed point on my schedule is my day job. Living with someone means changing the shape and contours of my days and I think I've lived alone for too long to be easy or comfortable with sharing space full time with anyone, even someone I love, but I am an adaptable creature.

A part of me resists the change to a comfortable and workable lifestyle and the rest of me welcomes the one person I'd ever consider sharing my space with. Then again, maybe I've lived alone too long. It may be too late for me to change.

In years past when people have asked me about my plans to get married, I had a list ready for them. I'd get married again if the person was older, traveled a lot, financially stable and I don't have to support him and would agree to separate homes and conjugal visits. The added plus of having one foot in a grave and the other on a banana peel was something I saved for really obnoxious people who wouldn't drop the subject. The thought that I was a gold digging mercenary made them think twice about asking any more questions. Don't want to poke the bitch in the cage.

There is some hint of a shadow of a glint of hope that some day I will again share space with a partner, but I have a feeling I'll have to pay them for taking care of me and s/he will be called an aide/caregiver. Who knows? I have been wrong before. The right man and the right circumstances could help change my mind.


Nonsequitor: Since writing the above, some news has landed in my email box. Attached was a contract for my novel and a W-9. In the contract was the breakdown of royalties and information about my advance. I sold the novel. I now have a contract and a check for the advance will follow as soon as they receive my signed W-9 and two copies of the contract. I sold the novel. I SOLD THE NOVEL!.

That is all. Disperse.